Nesting ecology of a naturalized population of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos in New Zealand

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Investigating the reproductive ecology of naturalized species provides insights into the role of the source population's characteristics vs. post‐release adaptation that influence the success of introduction programmes. Introduced and naturalized Mallards Anas platyrhynchos are widely established in New Zealand (NZ), but little is known regarding their reproductive ecology. We evaluated the nesting ecology of female Mallards at two study sites in NZ (Southland and Waikato) in 2014–15. We radiotagged 241 pre‐breeding females with abdominal‐implant transmitters and measured breeding incidence, nesting chronology and re‐nesting propensity. We monitored 271 nests to evaluate nest survival, clutch and egg size, egg hatchability and partial clutch depredation. Breeding incidence averaged (mean ± se) 0.91 ± 0.03, clutch size averaged 9.9 ± 0.1 eggs, 94 ± 2% of eggs hatched in successful nests, partial depredation affected 6 ± 1% of eggs in clutches that were not fully destroyed by predators, and re‐nesting propensity following failure of nests or broods was 0.50 ± 0.003. Nesting season (first nest initiated to last nest hatched) lasted 4.5 months and mean initiation date of first detected nest attempts was 28 August ± 3.3 days. Smaller females were less likely to nest, but older, larger or better condition females nested earlier, re‐nested more often and laid larger clutches than did younger, smaller or poorer condition females. Younger females in Southland had higher nest survival; cumulative nest survival ranged from 0.25 ± 0.007 for adult females in Waikato to 0.50 ± 0.007 for yearling females in Southland. Compared with Mallards in their native range, the nesting season in NZ was longer, clutches and eggs were larger, and nest survival was generally greater. Different predators and climate, introgression with native heterospecifics and/or the sedentary nature of Mallards in NZ may have contributed to these differences.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Nesting ecology of a naturalized population of Mallards Anas platyrhynchos in New Zealand
Series title Ibis
DOI 10.1111/ibi.12656
Volume 161
Issue 34
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description 17 p.
First page 504
Last page 520
Country New Zealand
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